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Dean Simonton


  • Ph.D., Social Psychology, Harvard University, 1975
  • M.A., Social Psychology, Harvard University, 1973
  • B.A., Psychology, Occidental College, 1970


Dean Simonton is distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. He is a member of a number of professional organizations, having served as president of the Society for General Psychology, APA Division 1, from 2011-2012 and previously as the president of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, and the Society for Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, APA Division 10. He also serves on a number of editorial committees and is currently associate editor of The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging, as well as direct submissions editor for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. At UC Davis, Professor Simonton has served in a number of executive roles, including chair of the faculty for the executive committee and representative assembly, and departmental vice-chair, among others.

Research Focus

Professor Simonton’s research focuses on genius, creativity, leadership and aesthetics, looking at the cognitive, dispositional, developmental and sociocultural factors behind eminence, giftedness and talent in science, philosophy, literature, music, art, cinema, politics and war, with the greatest emphasis on scientific genius. He has also extensively developed archival data analysis, with an emphasis on cross-cultural, transhistorical, biographical, and content analytical measures, with special stress on the historiometric analyses of eminent personalities, creative products, and notable events. In addition, he studies the history of psychology, including analyses from the standpoint of the psychology of science, especially the psychology of distinguished scientists and eminent psychologists. 

Selected Publications

  • Simonton, D. K. (2014). Creative performance, expertise acquisition, individual-differences, and developmental antecedents: An integrative research agenda. Intelligence, 45, 66-73. 
  • Simonton, D. K. (Ed.) (2014). The Wiley handbook of genius. Oxford, UK: Wiley. 
  • Simonton, D. K. (2014). The mad (creative) genius: What do we know after a century of historiometric research? In J.C. Kaufman (Ed.), Creativity and mental illness (pp. 25-41). New York: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Simonton, D. K. (2014). The mad-genius paradox: Can creative people be more mentally healthy but highly creative people more mentally ill? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 470-480. 
  • Simonton, D. K. (2014). More method in the mad-genius controversy: A historiometric study of 204 historic creators. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8, 53-61.


Professor Simonton teaches in the area of social-personality. He has taught courses in Introductory Psychology; Introductory Social Psychology; History of Psychology; and Genius, Creativity, and Leadership.


Professor Simonton has won numerous awards throughout this career for research, service and teaching. The research awards include the William James Book Award from the Society for General Psychology, APA Division 1, in 2000; the Sir Francis Galton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Creativity, International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, in 1996; and the Theoretical Innovation Prize, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, APA Division 8, in 2004. Service honors include the Farnsworth Award for Outstanding Service to the Society for Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, APA Division 10, in 2011. And teaching honors include the Robert S. Daniel Award for Four Year College/University Teaching, Division 2 - Society for the Teaching of Psychology, APA, in 2006.  At UC Davis, he has been awarded the UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement, the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award and the Magnar Ronning Award for Teaching Excellence.